Origin of burlesque

1650–60; < French < Italian burlesco, equivalent to burl(a) jest (perhaps < Spanish; cf. burladero) + -esco -esque

SYNONYMS FOR burlesque


bur·lesque·ly, adverbbur·lesqu·er, nounpre·bur·lesque, adjectiveun·bur·lesqued, adjective


burlesque caricature cartoon parody satire (see synonym study at the current entry)

synonym study for burlesque

1. Burlesque, caricature, parody, travesty refer to the literary or dramatic forms that imitate serious works or subjects to achieve a humorous or satiric purpose. The characteristic device of burlesque is mockery of both high and low through association with their opposites: a burlesque of high and low life. Caricature, usually associated with visual arts or with visual effects in literary works, implies exaggeration of characteristic details: The caricature emphasized his nose. Parody achieves its humor through application of the manner or technique, usually of a well-known writer, to unaccustomed subjects: a parody by Swift. Travesty implies a grotesque form of burlesque: characters so changed as to produce a travesty.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for burlesk

/ (bɜːˈlɛsk) /


an artistic work, esp literary or dramatic, satirizing a subject by caricaturing it
a ludicrous imitation or caricature
a play of the 17th–19th centuries that parodied some contemporary dramatic fashion or event
Also: burlesk US and Canadian theatre a bawdy comedy show of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: the striptease eventually became one of its chief elementsSlang name: burleycue


of, relating to, or characteristic of a burlesque

verb -lesques, -lesquing or -lesqued

to represent or imitate (a person or thing) in a ludicrous way; caricature

Derived forms of burlesque

burlesquer, noun

Word Origin for burlesque

C17: from French, from Italian burlesco, from burla a jest, piece of nonsense
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012